National Stakeholders Dialogue on the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65).

Chief Administrative Secretary for Gender, Hon. Jebii Kilimo, on 18th March, 2021 presided over a virtual national stakeholders dialogue on the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65).

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

During the Commission’s annual two-week session, representatives of UN Member States, civil society organizations and UN entities gather at UN headquarters in New York. They discuss progress and gaps in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the key global policy document on gender equality, and the 23rd special session of the General Assembly held in 2000 (Beijing+5), as well as emerging issues that affect gender equality and the empowerment of women. Member States agree on further actions to accelerate progress and promote women’s enjoyment of their rights in political, economic, and social fields.

This year’s CSW65 session is being conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic under the theme “women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”

The State Department for Gender is organising through a multi-sectoral committee, Kenya’s participation in a series of side events and activities.

In her statement today, Hon. Kilimo noted that Kenya had made significant progress in addressing the areas of concern on the Beijing Platform for Action and said that the theme on women’s leadership and addressing related violence is timely as the country gears for the General Election next year.

“As a country, we have made steady progress in enhancing women’s participation in decision-making and public life. Notably as evident in key positions held by women. In the Executive, the number of women Cabinet Secretaries has gradually increased from a paltry 18.8% in 2012 to the current 33.3% in 2021. In the Legislature, women represent 22% of elected members and 18% of nominated positions in the National Assembly, 27% of elected and 86% of nominated positions in Senate and 34% Members of the County Assembly. In the Judiciary, the Deputy Chief Justice and the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary are women. As at 2020, women constituted 40% out of the 108 judges. Near gender parity has been achieved at the magistracy level with males accounting for 244 magistrates and females at 215. Further, the judiciary has started to produce a body of constitutional jurisprudence on gender equality.

Principal Secretary for Gender, Prof. Collette Suda urged the stakeholders to fully engage in the process as required even under challenging circumstances to ensure the Government’s obligations on Gender are fulfilled.

“You will have the opportunity to interact with the country position paper and give your input for ownership,” she said.

On her part, UN Women Country Representative, Ms. Anna Mutavati acknowledged that the CSW continues to play a critical role in setting global standards and the resultant review of progress made in the advancement of women and girls in all spheres of life. She pledged commitment from UN Women in working with all actors to realize the vision of a more prosperous and fair world for all.

Present at the virtual meeting was Hon. Senator Petronila Were, National Gender and Equality Commission Chairperson, Dr. Joyce Mwikali Mutinda and CEO, Betty Nyabuto, Uwezo Fund Board CEO, Peter Lengapiani, among other Ministry officials and various national CSW stakeholders.

By Nelly Kosgey

The Coca Cola ‘When Women Lead’

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia today presided over a Coca Cola webinar event dubbed ‘When Women Lead’, where she laid emphasis on Government policies that are meant to address gender equality challenges.

She highlighted the role of the State Department for Gender in policy formulation, development and coordination to ensure gender equality.

“Having clear policies and funding to support the implementation is very crucial because it helps in addressing gender equality challenges and the realization of SDG 5, ” said Prof. Kobia.

The Cabinet Secretary said despite cultural issues which create barriers for gender equality and more so women representation in leadership positions, gender equity and gender equality contribute to economic development.

The webinar was attended by Deborah Mallowah, Vice President East and Central Africa, Coca Cola, Dr. Vijooh Ratansi, Chancellor, Nairobi University, Jeremy Owori, CEO Absa Bank among others.

By Brian Were

Public Service HR Officers Trained on Mental Wellbeing

Public Service HR Officers Trained on Mental Wellbeing

The training of public service human resource management and development officers on essential counselling skills kicked-off yesterday, March 15th, at the Kenya School of Government, Embu campus.

The month-long training programme aims to equip officers with knowledge on the role of counselling in managing human resources in the public service and to generate mental health champions equipped with basic counselling skills. The training will also highlight the signs and symptoms of psychological disorders such as depression, substance abuse disorders as well as address emergent mental health challenges within the work environment.

The training, the second of its kind, comprises of 150 senior HR officers and line managers drawn from various Ministries, Departments, State Corporations and Counties. The cohort will be taken through a counselling curriculum developed by the State Department for Public Service in conjunction with the Kenya School of Government. The first cohort of 41 mental health champions was trained in February 2020.

While opening the training session, the Director of Human Resource Policy at the State Department for Public Service, Mr. Benrodgers Milaih, who was representing the Principal Secretary for Public Service noted that the current mental health trends in the country are of great concern to the Government with depression and substance abuse disorders being the two main contributors to the worrying and frequent cases of suicides, homicides and femicide. This situation is reflected in the public service as indicated by the clinical records in the counselling unit.

He noted that the Covid – 19 pandemic has exacerbated the mental health situation at the work place and this has negatively impacted work productivity. “It is in view of this prevailing situation that we find this capacity building exercise to be timely and appropriate for human resource officers because of your daily interaction with public servants and therefore are at a vantage point to be able to identify and assess the psychological needs of staff,” he remarked.

According to the World Health Organization (2019) Kenya is ranked sixth in Africa in terms of depression cases, having increased by 18% since 2005. Between 76% and 85% of people in low and middle-income countries receive no treatment for their mental disorders. This is attributed to insufficient trained health-care providers, high levels of social stigma and inaccurate assessment of the disorders.

By Andrew Ishepai

Ring the Bell for Gender Equality

Ring the Bell for Gender Equality

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia today presided over the 7th Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” annual event in commemoration of International Women’s Day 2021. This year’s IWD theme is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a Covid-19 World”.

In her remarks, Prof. Kobia noted that although progress has been made in gender equality and women empowerment, COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the world order not only in health sector but in all spheres of our lives. She pointed that about 70% of women who are in the frontline health services are making great sacrifices in supporting the efforts to combat the pandemic and its effect.

The Cabinet Secretary indicated that emerging research has revealed that women representation in sectors such as education, hospitality, wholesale and retail trade, arts and recreation, and public administration is expected to decline due to COVID-19.

“Women-owned micro, small and medium enterprises which rely on tourism have also been affected, because of greatly reduced travel and visitor arrivals globally. We need to pause and ask ourselves – does women leadership matter during such a setback?” she paused.

She further commended NSE and its member institutions for making great contribution in promoting women leadership for gender equality. “This is demonstrated by NSE being a signatory to the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPS) and adopting the seven (7) principles into its business strategy and practice,” she said.

Prof. Kobia said the report that was commissioned by NSE in 2019 to undertake a survey to evaluate Kenyan listed companies on their performance on gender equality in the workplace has played a key role in influencing policy and programming in Kenya in regard to advancing women equality in the workplace, effectively empowering women to fully contribute to the growth of the economy.

By Nelly Kosgey

President Uhuru Presides Over Landmark Declaration to End FGM in the Samburu Community.

President Uhuru Presides Over Landmark Declaration to End FGM in the Samburu Community.

H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday presided over the landmark declaration by Samburu elders to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child Marriage in the community at Kisima in Samburu County.

The Head of State congratulated the elders for taking a bold step to protect their women and girls from harmful cultural practices and appealed to them to help him meet his goal to end FGM in Kenya by 2022.

“My commitment to eliminate FGM in Kenya by 2022 will be achieved if each one of us takes their own initiative. The journey we have started today will require each one of us to play their part,” he said.

His Excellency challenged communities practising FGM to discard the retrogressive cultural practice by finding alternative rites of passage.

“I know it is possible for our girls to go through alternative rites of passage without suffering,” President Kenyatta said.

While highlighting the benefits of educating girls, the President advised the Samburu community to give their boys and girls an equal opportunity to attend school.

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia welcomed the elders intervention to end FGM in the Samburu Community noting that it had been a rigorous 3 year process. She lauded the development partners for their support in championing for alternative rites of passage for girls.

Prof. Kobia noted that an equal world will only be achieved by ending FGM and other harmful practices.

Leaders present at the event were Ministry of Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Keriako Tobiko; Samburu County Governor, Hon. Moses Lenolkulal; Marsabit County Governor, Hon. Mohamud Ali; Chief Administrative Secretaries, Hon. Rachel Shebesh, Hon. Beatrice Elachi and Hon. Linah Jebii Kilimo; Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Ms. Nadia Abdalla; Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary, Dr. Mercy Mwangangi; Ministry of Education, Ms. Mumina Bonaya; Principal Secretary, State Department for Gender, Prof. Collette Suda and representatives from the development partners among other dignitaries and Government officials.

NGAAF Partnership With Banks to Promote Women Economic Empowerment

NGAAF Partnership With Banks to Promote Women Economic Empowerment

Principal Secretary for Gender, Prof. Collette Suda on Friday, 26th February, 2021, presided over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) Board with Equity Bank Ltd, Cooperative Bank Ltd and GROOTS Kenya Association. The event was held at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) Nairobi.

The MOU creates a partnership aimed at economically empowering women through capacity building. It will enhance for NGAAF funded women groups and SACCOs in business development and entrepreneurship skills. The programme will be piloted in the five counties of Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu, Makueni and Kajiado.

In her remarks, Prof. Suda challenged women to use the skills they will gain to increase productivity and grow their businesses, while leveraging on the opportunities provided through the partnership.

“This partnership has put in place the structures, policies and frameworks that facilitate economic empowerment of women,” she added.

NGAAF Chairperson, Prof. Wanjiku Kabira on her part lauded the partnership and asked women to venture into larger business opportunities. She noted that women led enterprises are faced with financial challenges and assured that the partnership will provide wider opportunities for women groups to expand their businesses.

Among those present at the event were NGAAF CEO Titus Lotee, NGAAF Board of Directors, representatives from Equity Bank Ltd, Cooperative Bank Ltd, GROOTS Kenya Association, and NGAAF groups beneficiaries from Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu, Makueni and Kajiado Counties.

Launch of the Nationwide Boda Boda Riders Training Programme

Launch of the Nationwide Boda Boda Riders Training Programme

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia earlier today presided over the launch of a nationwide Boda Boda Riders Training Programme at People’s Park, Machakos County.

The Ministries of Public Service and Gender, Interior and Coordination of National Government and that of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs are spearheading the training Programme to address the increasing road safety challenge in the Motorcycle Public Transport (Boda Boda) Sector in Kenya.

The programme is targeting close to 1.4 million riders countrywide with the National Youth Service (NYS) in collaboration with the National Transport and Safety Association (NTSA) set to conduct the training beginning in February 2021.

In her keynote address, Prof. Kobia called on the riders to hold each other accountable to restore road safety citing that the training programme is expected to restore order and discipline. “The training we have launched today is important since the accidents happening on our roads is attributed to human error,” she said.

Prof. Kobia noted that with over 1500 lives being lost annually through Boda Boda accidents the Government has had to do something to save lives by introducing the new programme that will ensure all the Riders undergo a refresher course to restore sanity in the Boda Boda sector.

Prof. Kobia noted that the program would specifically change the lives of the youth. “This program will economically empower the youth in order for them to make independent choices and be able to build their own country,” she said.

She urged the riders to develop a saving culture in order to diversify their investments in the future and develop themselves for a better livelihoods and that of their dependants.

Machakos County Governor, Dr. Alfred Mutua in his remarks welcomed the programme and committed to subsidizing the fee charged for the training to ensure all the riders undergo the refresher training in Machakos County. “For those already with licenses we shall pay the Ksh 750 for each and the ones without licenses will pay a subsidized fee,” he said.

The programme will be piloted in three (3) counties namely; Kiambu, Kajiado and Machakos and thereon to be rolled out in the remaining Counties in the country.

Motorcycle rider fatalities in Kenya have been increasing from as low as 34 in 2006 to 1,575 deaths in 2020 as per statistics obtained from the NTSA and the Traffic Police.

It is estimated that the sector employs about 1.7 million riders in our country who earn between Kshs.500/- and Kshs 750/- per day translating into over Ksh.15000 in a month.

Also present at the event was the National Youth Service Director General, Ms. Matilda Sakwa, Machakos County Commissioner, Mr. Fredrick Ndunga among other National and County Government officials.

By Nelly Kosgey

Launch of Uwezo Fund PSIP Interns Induction Training

Launch of Uwezo Fund PSIP Interns Induction Training

State Department for Gender Affairs Principal Secretary Prof. Collette Suda today officiated the opening of the Uwezo Fund Training Program, where the Public Service Internship program (PSIP) interns deployed to Uwezo Fund, were inducted.

The Fund in partnership with the UN Women will coordinate an empowerment program across the 47 counties field stations to create awareness and sensitize the Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities to increase uptake of Government Affirmative Funds.Over 120 interns who were deployed to the Fund through the PSIP are undergoing a two-day induction training before they are redeployed in the field stations.

In her remarks, Prof. Suda welcomed the interns and urged them to take the opportunity with a lot of keenness in order to acquire work experience in their respective field of study. She pointed that PSIP is a key pillar in the government’s wider strategy to mitigate youth unemployment by addressing the work experience demanded by prospective employers.

“This programme is designed to offer you industrial skills and learning opportunities to acquire and develop valuable technical and professional skills while gaining work experience and to certify the requirements for registration to various professional bodies,” she told the interns.

The Principal Secretary told them to make a difference in the lives of the vulnerable groups by giving them the necessary support as they apply for the funds.

UN Women Country Director, Ms. Anna Mutavati lauded the partnership between UN Women and Uwezo Fund noting that the Government’s agenda of Ending Gender Based Violence, Women’s Economic Empowerment and expanding women’s voices, leadership and participation shall be realized.

“We commit to offer financial and technical support for the betterment of the Fund and overall Women Economic Empowerment in Kenya.” She said in her address.

Uwezo Fund CEO, Mr. Peter Lengapiani pointed out that the interns will reduce employee work load as they will support the field stations in mobilizing and monitoring uptake of the Fund loans.

He expressed optimism on the conduct of the interns noting that the first and second cohorts finished their internship without any disciplinary cases. “We shall closely work with the 129 interns to ensure they get the necessary support in the work place and gain experience within the one year period,” Mr. Lengapiani said.

He added that much of the work for the interns is to create awareness and sensitize women, youth and Persons with Disabilities on economic empowerment programmes so that they can form and register their groups in order to access the Government interest-free loans.

Since its inception the Fund has cumulatively disbursed Kshs. 6.5 Billion to the 290 constituencies which have benefited 70,102 groups comprising of; 23,697 Youth, 44,599 Women and 1,806 Persons with Disabilities groups. This has directly benefited 1,034,743 individuals comprising of 712,960 Female and 321,783 Male.

Among those present at the event were Uwezo Fund Board Chairperson, Prof. Losenge Turoop, Board members, and the management team.

By Jacqueline Kirimi

Kenya – Uganda Signs Declaration To End Cross Border FGM

Kenya – Uganda Signs Declaration To End Cross Border FGM

The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation was marked today in Alale, West Pokot County with a landmark signing of an End Cross Border FGM declaration by the Pokot elders and Government Representatives from Kenya and Uganda.

Chief Administrative Secretary, Hon. Rachel Shebesh who presided over the event welcomed the declaration from both Countries that will see the elimination of FGM and protect the girls and women from the harmful practice.

Hon. Shebesh noted that women and girls have borne the brunt of the harmful consequences of FGM for a long time and said that the time for it’s elimination was long overdue.

She noted that involving the elders is a prerequisite in the fight against FGM given the significant role they play as the gate keepers of the culture in their communities. She urged the elders to utilize their power to influence the community positively.

“The cultural leaders are there to protect our women and girls from the harmful practices such as FGM. Their voice is the most respected in the society so they influence the community to choose a safer rite of passage for girls. As government and in partnership with our development partners and our neighboring Countries we are at hand to accord you all the required support,” said Hon. Shebesh.

She emphasized that the government was not fighting cultural practices but was fighting harmful cultural practices that infringe on the rights and well-being of girls and women.

The Chief Administrative Secretary also warned complacent Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs and told them that they risked arrest if the practice continued in their respective jurisdictions unabated.

“The Chiefs and the Assistant Chiefs with reported cases of FGM in their jurisdictions should come forward to seek for support to end FGM, ” she said.

She challenged practitioners of female circumcision who are carrying out the practice as a source of livelihood to seek alternative means of income through Government Affirmative Funds.

West Pokot County Governor, Hon. John Lonyangapuo urged parents to ensure their children are in school noting that the County Government had given allocation for education which is enough for every child in the County. “To eradicate FGM in West Pokot County we must invest in education being a marginalized region,” said Hon. Lonyangapuo.

The international theme for the day was “No Time for Global Inaction: Unite, Fund end Act to End FGM.”

The day was preceded by unveiling of the West Pokot County Anti-FGM Youth Chapter yesterday. Where Anti-FGM Youth Network drawn from the 22 hot spot counties in Kenya and from within West Pokot County met to share best practice on ways young people can end FGM. The Anti-FGM youth champions will be rolled out in the other Counties to spearhead dialogue and awareness campaigns at the community level. The youth network called for the nomination of a youth under 35 years of age into the Anti-FGM Board Committee to bring in the youth voice in the fight against FGM.

The delegation from the Ugandan Government called for increased allocation in the budget for education for the border counties which are practicing FGM in order to empower the girls through education.

Earlier on, Hon. Shebesh visited Alale Rescue Centre, near Uganda Border where she met with over 90 girls who have been rescued from FGM and early forced marriage who are are undergoing mentoring. She pledged to support the Centre with mattresses and other basic items.

Among those leaders who accompanied the Chief Administrative Secretary are Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ms. Maureen Mbaka; Ugandan Government Representatives, Anti-FGM Board Chairperson and CEO Agnes Pareiyo and Bernadette Loloju respectively; the West Pokot County Anti-FGM Multi-Agency Committee and other National and County Government officials.

By Nelly Kosgey

FGM Spikes in West Pokot Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

FGM Spikes in West Pokot Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

West Pokot County leadership has today decried an increased number of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) cases in the County during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

During a meeting presided over by Chief Administrative Secretary, Hon. Rachel Shebesh ahead of the commemoration of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM tomorrow in Alale, West Pokot County, the leaders called for accelerated efforts to eradicate the practice by 2022.

While addressing the County leaders, Hon. Shebesh pledged full support from the National Government. “One of the key interventions that has proven to be effective is the provision of Affirmative Action Funds loans to the women cutters which is an alternative source of income,” she said.

The Chief Administrative Secretary urged the leaders to support the National Government in the empowerment program which she noted will go a long way in ensuring the eradication of the outlawed practice.

West Pokot County Governor, Hon. John Lonyangapuo noted that the County Government had invested heavily in Education through the provision of Bursary Funds for over 53,000 students in the County up from 15,000 in the previous financial year. This, he pointed out, had seen an increase in the enrolment of girls in schools which ensures that girls are safe from FGM.

Hon. Lonyangapuo also expressed concern over the rise of teenage pregnancy and early child marriage in the county during the pandemic and called on for more efforts to protect girls from being exploited.

In another earlier event, the Chief Administrative Secretary unveiled the West Pokot Anti-FGM Youth Chapter, where she challenged the youth to have an open conversation on FGM. She challenged the youth to support the fight against FGM in all the 22 hot spot counties.

Youth participants during the launch of West Pokot Anti-FGM Youth Chapter

“We shall unveil Anti-FGM youth champions in all the 22 Counties who will be our ambassadors at the community level in championing for zero FGM by 2022,” she said.

Later, the Anti-FGM Multi-Agency Committee visited Nasokol Primary School Rescue Centre to check on its status and they addressed the pupils who are being mentored through education.

Hon. Shebesh was accompanied by the Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Ms. Maureen Mbaka; UNFPA Country Representative Kenya, Dr. Ademola Olajide; Anti-FGM Board Chairperson and CEO Agnes Pareiyo and Bernadette Loloju respectively, the West Pokot County Anti-FGM Multi-Agency Committee; and County and National Government officials.

By Catherine Kamau

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